If your periods are so heavy that they limit your lifestyle, make an appointment with your doctor or other health care provider.
Here's some information to help you prepare for your appointment and know what to expect from your provider.
What you can do
- Ask if there are any pre-appointment instructions. At the time you make the appointment, ask if there's anything you should do in advance. For example, your doctor may ask you to keep notes about the dates, length and heaviness of your bleeding on a calendar.
- Write down any symptoms you're experiencing, and for how long. In addition to the frequency and volume of your periods, tell your doctor about other symptoms that typically occur around the time of your period, such as breast tenderness or pelvic pain.
- Write down key personal information, including any recent changes or stressors in your life. These factors can affect your menstrual cycle.
- Make a list of your key medical information, including any other conditions for which you're being treated and the names of any medications, vitamins or supplements you're taking.
- Write down questions to ask your doctor. Creating your list of questions in advance can help you make the most of your time with your doctor.
For menorrhagia, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:
- Are my periods abnormally heavy?
- Do I need any tests?
- What treatment approach do you recommend trying first?
- If the first treatment doesn't work, what will we try next?
- Are there any side effects associated with these treatments?
- Will any of these treatments affect my ability to have future children?
- Are there any lifestyle changes I can make to help reduce or manage my symptoms?
- Do you expect my symptoms will change over time?
In addition to the questions that you've prepared to ask your doctor, don't hesitate to ask questions during your appointment at any time that you don't understand something.
What to expect from your doctor
Your doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions. Being ready to answer them may reserve time to go over any points you want to spend more time on. You may be asked:
- When did your last period start?
- At what age did you begin menstruating?
- How have your periods changed over time?
- Do you experience breast tenderness or pelvic pain during your menstrual cycle?
- How long do your periods last?
- How frequently do you need to change your tampon or pad when you're menstruating?
- Do you ever need to use double protection — a tampon and pad at the same time — during your period?
- Do you experience severe cramping during your period?
- Do you experience fatigue during your period?
- How much do you exercise?
- Has your body weight recently changed?
- Have you recently experienced significant stress or emotional difficulty?
- Are you sexually active?
- Are you using any type of birth control?
- Do you have any family history of bleeding disorders?
- Do your symptoms limit your ability to function? For example, have you ever had to miss school or work because of your period?
- Are you currently being treated or have you recently been treated for any other medical conditions?
What you can do in the meantime
While you wait for your appointment, check with your family members to find out if any relatives have been diagnosed with bleeding disorders. In addition, start jotting down notes about how often and how much you bleed over the course of each month. To track the volume of bleeding, count how many tampons or pads you saturate during an average menstrual period.
Jun. 25, 2011
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- Brar MK, et al. Dysfunctional uterine bleeding. In: Ferri FF. Ferri's Clinical Advisor 2011: Instant Diagnosis and Treatment. Philadelphia, Pa.: Mosby Elsevier; 2011. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/about.do?eid=4-u1.0-B978-0-323-05610-6..C2009-0-38600-6--TOP&isbn=978-0-323-05610-6&about=true&uniqId=230100505-53. Accessed May 7, 2011.
- Goodman A, et al. Terminology and evaluation of abnormal uterine bleeding in premenopausal women. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed May 7, 2011.
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- Abnormal uterine bleeding. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. http://www.acog.org/publications/patient_education/bp095.cfm. Accessed May 7, 2011.
- Menstruation. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. http://www.acog.org/publications/patient_education/bp049.cfm. Accessed May 7, 2011.
- The Pap test. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. http://www.acog.org/publications/patient_education/bp085.cfm. Accessed May 7, 2011.
- Dysmenorrhea. The Merck Manuals: Home Edition for Patients and Caregivers. http://www.merckmanuals.com/home/au/sec22/ch244/ch244c.html. Accessed May 7, 2011.
- Gallenberg MM (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. May 9, 2011.